Sonicware LIVEN XFM, 4-Track Groovebox With Fusing FM Synthesis

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Sonicware is expanding its portable, battery-operable LIVEN series and takes you on a morphing FM journey with their new XFM Synthesizer & 4-track groovebox. 

Back at NAMM 2020, Sonicware from Japan presented the Liven 8bit warps, a so-called 8-bit waveform memory synthesizer with a full-blown sequencer. Don’t miss my English/Japanese interview with the developers. In the meantime, you can order this special synth worldwide. Many like the Liven as it is a good contrast and addition to the Korg Volcas.

Sonicware is now continuing the LIVEN series and is sending it to the FM synthesis world under the name XFM. What is very exciting about this affordable groovebox-Synthesizer is that it does not use classic FM synthesis but explores new areas.

Sonicware Liven XFM

Sonicware LIVEN XFM

The structure remains: format, sequencer, etc. Where it changes is the engine. Instead of sending quirky 8-bit sounds on a journey, advanced FM synthesis is used here in various forms. The Live XFM has four tracks so you can manage lead, bass, rhythm, and more, each on separate tracks. Sonicware uses here three Fusion FM engines to generate the sounds. The X-LAB engine merges two FM sounds into a new one using a single knob that smoothly blends the envelopes, modulation routing, feedback.

XFORM transforms one FM sound into another over a specific period of time and XLFO continuously merges between two FM sounds using an LFO. Here you constantly switch back and forth between two sounds what is an interesting approach. For those who are FM synthesis experts, the new LIVEN also offers you full access to the 4-operator XFM engine. Here you have 15 knobs and 30 buttons with which you adjust every aspect of the engine.

Sonicware Liven XFM

Sequencing Engine

The engine has up to 6-note polyphony in total that can be played in mono, poly, legato, or in different arpeggiator modes. Further, you get a multi-mode filter where each track has its own filter envelope. Plus a wide range of effects including chorus, flanger, bit-crusher, distortion. reverb and more. The engine has 6 LFOs where each track has one which can affect both pitch and filter cutoff. The synth has 512 sound memory slots (16 x 32 banks).

The whole thing can be played as a classic FM Synthesizer or as a 4-track groovebox. The sequencer is very deep and sophisticated for the price class. Each track has up to 64-steps per pattern, 128 patterns in total, and various creative functions. This includes Elektron style parameter lock function, stutter, note trigger probability, swing, pattern chaining, and more. The unit has 27 keys, dedicated buttons for the engine and sequencer, 15 physical control knobs, an LCD screen, and more.

Good I/O

It can also shine on the audio and MIDI side. It has a stereo line input/output on 3.5mm mini-jack, headphone out, Volca & Pocket Operator compatible sync in/out, and a MIDI interface. The latter has full-size MIDI in/out what is a big plus for such a device. All this powered by a 9V DC output AC adapter or with 6 AA batteries.

Sonicware continues with its LIVEN series. Very good in my opinion as it is good competition for the Korg Volca range. In real life, the LIVEN series is significantly larger than the Volcas, but it fits perfectly into such mini synthesizer setups. Since the first LIVEN (8-bit warps) was a success, I’m sure that this new one will be another one. At this price anyway.

Sonicware LIVEN XFM is available now for pre-order for 199€. The first batch is limited to 300 units and includes a limited edition carrying bay (normally $39).

More information here: Sonicware

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